a Man


Sexual Stigma, Labels and Morality

Dear Dr. Neder,

How come in the old days women were considered sluts and freaks if they enjoyed having sex or watching porn?

How come the girl had to stay a virgin until marriage but no one cared about the guy? Is it because men needed to know their wife was pregnant with their baby and no one else's or because men could have sex with a lot of girls and have almost no effect, but if women had sex with a lot of guys she would become emotionally messed up?

Sorry for so many questions, I’m just really confused by all of this.


As with most things, the answer isn't as simple as just a single thing. There are a number of reasons for this.

There is nothing as powerful about a person as their sexuality. Think about this: people are willing to risk ridicule, loss of friends, loss of jobs, loss of family, jail, reputation and many other things to get their sexual needs met. This is because sex is a drive that is in all of us.

More important, your sexuality defines quite literally everything else you do! It dictates the clothes you wear, how you walk, the words you choose, your friends and literally every other aspect of your personality in a very direct way. Once someone else understands this, they also see that by controlling your sexuality, they can control you too! Your parents, your church, your city, state and federal governments, "special interest groups", individuals with their own agenda, etc., etc., etc., are all trying to control your sexuality by dictating everything from when and where you can have sex to with whom you can have it to how you actually go about it!

There are laws on many books dictating specifically how and when you can have sex for instance. In some states for instance, it's illegal to have oral sex! Why do you think that is? Simple: control a person's sexuality and you OWN that person. When someone chooses to NOT be owned by someone else and to get comfortable with their sexualities, you pose a threat to those that want to use it to control you.

This is why labels like "slut" and "deviant" exist. In fact, nobody is a slut; male or female, and as long as a person's sexual interests don't inflict themselves on or cause harm to anyone else, they aren't deviant either. Many people live in fear of being labeled and this fear is often enough to "keep them in line".

Interestingly, many of the dumb beliefs we carry today came out of just this sort of need to control. Take a look at the (absolutely ridiculous, harmful, dangerous) belief that a person should stay a virgin until marriage. Frankly, I think that sort of teaching is criminal! What would you say if your church or government or someone you didn't even know tried to make you not believe in your God or religion until you were married? You'd be at their door with a pitchfork!

Sex is very complicated and takes many years and many experiences to learn; let alone master. However, by learning it well and growing in your own comfort of it, you become a far more powerful person because of all the aspects of your own personality that it controls.

Indeed, there were reasons why men were directed to marry virgins while not having the same stigma themselves. This certainly included knowing who the children belonged too, but in fact, that wasn't very practical! Do you know that in turn-of-the-century (20th) England that as many as 1 out 3 babies were father by someone OTHER than the husband? Obviously, these women were having lots of sex outside their marriages.

Today, we use stigma, disease control, guilt, responsibility, funding and tons of other ways to try to control people's sexuality. Many buy into it and are simply harmed in the process. Many others come to the realization that education is the real answer to preventing these negatives and enthusiastically and safely explore their sexualities - and those of others.

Don't worry about other's labels. Focus on what you want in your life and let other, lesser folks grovel in their own limitations. Trust me; you'll have a far richer life because of it.

Best regards...

© 2009, Dr. Dennis W. Neder

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Relationship is a pervading and changing mystery...brutal or lovely, the mystery waits for people wherever they go, whatever extreme they run to. - Euroda Welty

Dr. Dennis W. Neder is the author of Being a Man in a Woman's World I and Being a Man in a Woman's World II. Have a love, dating, relationship, sex or man/woman question? You can write to him by going to: for answers. Check out the discussion group at: . Stay tuned for our new Internet TV Show - BAM TV - starting soon!

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